Author: Sarah Clark
Characters/Pairings: Jasper, Alice
Word Count: 845
Summary: "Jasper was, by nature, a quiet person." Slight spoilers for the movie.
Jasper was, by nature, a quiet person.
Alice sat quietly beside him on the bus. Jasper had the window seat, as usual. His eyes flickered back and forth, watching objects as they moved swiftly past the rain-splattered window. His jaw was clenched; his body was rigid beside hers.
Jasper was quiet, but Alice never had cause to wonder what he was thinking.
When the bus pulled to a stop in front of the greenhouse, he laid a hand gently on her knee. Alice glanced up into his dark eyes. This is going to be difficult for me, his eyes admitted.
Pulling his hand into hers, she smiled warmly and led him off the bus.
The greenhouse was smaller than it looked. Nearly every available inch of floor space had been utilized for tables of varying heights and widths. Plants crawled up the walls on carefully constructed wooden beams, and more hung from the ceiling. The smell of nature was overwhelming, but not nearly so much as the smell of fifty students struggling to cram their warm, damp bodies into a warm, damp room.
Jasper lingered in the entrance as students pushed past him. He pressed his body against Alice's and grasped her fingers tightly between his. I can't do this, she read from the set of his mouth.
Standing on her toes, she leaned in and pressed her lips to the corner of his mouth in an uncommonly public display of affection. Jasper's eyes closed and he stood, unmoving, under her lingering kiss. Slowly, Alice felt the tension in his jaw relax and she pressed a second kiss to his skin before moving away. Looking down at her, he squeezed her hand one more time before allowing himself to be pulled back into the crowd.
The teacher meandered through the crowd, spouting jokes and little gems of wisdom as he went, warning all students who had a mind to pay attention that anything he mentioned could appear on their next test. Someone groaned amid the talking and laughter.
Jasper stayed close to Alice's side as they shuffled past rows of vegetables and herbs and small, leafy bushes. He fixed his eyes on the slick, muddy ground while Alice amused herself with the plants. Her hand reached out to daintily stroke a leaf on a nearby Rosmarinus officinalis.
The lanky blonde ahead of the pair stopped short. Jasper bumped into her, and then into the classmate behind him as he jerked back a step.
"Traffic jam!" someone helpfully yelled behind them.
"Who's holding things up?" another voice rang out.
The teacher scurried to the front of the row. "Why are we stopped?" he asked, his subtle frustration laced with humor. "I know this is all quite fascinating, but I assure you - the best is still to come! Thomas, don't touch that . . ."
Alice peeked up at Jasper from beneath her dark bangs. His eyes were still fixed on the ground, his body stiff. He wasn't breathing.
The smell . . . it's unbearable, said the rigid set of his shoulders.
Reaching back behind her, she plucked a leafy twig off the rosemary bush they had passed. Holding it under her nose, she said in a conversational tone, "I’m thinking of starting a garden at home." She felt Jasper's eyes shift from the ground to her face at the abrupt comment. She lifted the twig to him. "What do you think of this?"
Jasper stared at her a moment longer, then plucked the twig from her slender fingers. Holding it to his nose, he allowed himself to breathe in. He immediately turned away from the pungent sent, a combination not unlike mint and children's cough medicine.
Alice allowed herself a small smile at his expense. A smell that strong would stay with him all day. "What do you think?" she repeated.
His bemused expression was all an answer she needed, but the sudden sound of his voice surprised her. "It's okay," he said softly. She turned away as her smile broadened, but didn't miss the twig disappearing into Jasper's coat pocket.
The winding line of students eventually picked up speed as they moved into an adjoining, larger room. Here the tables were spread apart, allowing for more space between groups. The teacher's voice piped up somewhere behind them, something about composts and eggshells. They passed a line of small plastic bins; Alice wrinkled her nose at the smell of rotting food.
A hand appeared before her face. Her eyes immediately focused on the small blue flower held between strong, white fingers. Reaching up, she accepted the flower and took a tentative sniff. It was sweet and delicate, with a hint summertime. She grinned, and held the flower carefully in her palm.
Alice didn't have to look up to see the small smile that tugged at the corners of Jasper's mouth. She didn't need to look to see the words contained within his eyes. But she looked anyway, conveying her own silent message.
I love you.
Squeezing Alice's hand, he led her towards the greenhouse exit.